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Pilgrimage souvenir and amulet, England, 1401-1700

The images of three Marys are engraved on to this steel amulet. They are: St Mary Magdalene (first century CE), a disciple of Jesus; St Mary of Egypt (600s CE), a prostitute who converted to Christianity after a visit to Jerusalem; and Mary, the mother of Jesus. The pilgrimage souvenir was found at Brewer’s Quay, by the River Thames in London and then sold at auction. A pilgrimage is a journey to a holy place and pilgrims liked to acquire souvenirs like this as proof of their attendance. Such amulets were also believed to have magical and spiritual powers, bringing good fortune and good health while protecting against bad luck, including sickness.

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    Glossary: pilgrimage

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    Glossary: souvenir

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    Glossary: amulet

    Small object or piece of jewellery worn as a protecting charm to ward off ill health and bad luck.